As astoundingly fast as light moves through a vacuum, it’s still a pretty pokey speed limit for getting around in the Universe. It would take four years (and some change) to get to the local planning department over at Alpha Centauri. Wake me up when we’re there!
It’s one thing to run the numbers on this phenomena and marvel at the great expanse of space, but another to actually see it happening, in real-time.
Thanks to animator Alphonse Swinehart, you can do just that in this recently released video. According to his description, “This animation illustrates, in real-time, the journey of a photon of light emitted from the sun and traveling across a portion of the solar system.”
Swinehart arbitrarily adjusted the alignment of planets and asteroids to ensure that the camera’s viewpoint would take in all of the relatively few scenic opportunities along the route out to Jupiter, a 45-minutes ride so featureless that it will have you yearning for a few acres of cornfields to stare at out of the window along the way.
Grab a beverage and a snack and get settled in for the ride … and be glad Swinehart didn’t tack on the extra half-hour or so it would have taken to get all the way out to Saturn.